Ultraviolet (UV) radiation naturally comes from the sun. Other artificial sources can also produce UV, such as fluorescent lighting or a welder’s flash. But for a lot of people, the sun is its primary source. While everyone knows that UV light is harmful to the skin, some don’t realize the damage it can have on the eyes. Overexposure to sunlight can cause temporary problems. These include eye swelling, excessive watering, burning sensation, and photophobia. But long-term overexposure can have severe effects. That’s why you must use UV protection.
Here are the sight-threatening eye diseases you might be at risk of developing if you don’t shield your eyes from UV radiation:
Cataracts. This eye disease is often associated with older people. But cataracts can occur at any age. Prolonged exposure of your eyes to UV light can dramatically increase your risk of cataracts. The UV radiation that passes through your eyes can accelerate the breakdown of the proteins of your lens. This results in the clouding of your lens, preventing light from passing through it. As you know, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Macular Degeneration. This progressive eye condition occurs when your macula begins to deteriorate. The macula is a part of the retina that’s responsible for sharp, colored vision. So, if its cells break down, it can significantly impact your vision, making your everyday activities much harder. Some studies show that extended exposure to UV radiation can make you more susceptible to developing macular degeneration.
Skin Cancer. The light from the sun includes both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. The latter causes sunburn and contributes to the risk of melanoma as well as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. UVA, on the other hand, tends to penetrate the skin more deeply. Some studies suggest that UVA radiation plays a role in the development of non-melanoma eyelid cancer. The skin in and around your eyes is extremely sensitive and can develop cancerous cells too. You should see your eye doctor immediately if you see any unusual growth, lesions, or discoloration in these areas.
Whenever you’re outdoors in daylight, you should wear sunglasses that can block 100 percent UV light. Even on cloudy days, you need to use it as the sun’s harmful rays can pass through cloud cover. Also, opt for large frames or close-fitting wraparound styles as they offer the best protection for the delicate skin around your eyes. They limit the amount of sunlight that enters your eyes from all directions. Contrary to popular belief, the color and darkness of your eyewear lenses are unrelated to the amount of UV protection they provide. For instance, a light-bronze colored lens can offer the same level of UV protection as a black lens. Your optician can examine your lenses and verify whether or not they can really give 100 percent UV protection. In addition to wearing high-quality sunglasses, it’s highly recommended that you also wear a wide-brimmed hat on sunny days. This may not seem like much, but a proper hat can actually protect your eyes and reduce its UV exposure by up to 50 percent.
There’s no better way to protect your eyes and ensure optimal visual health than getting a comprehensive eye examination regularly. Schedule your consultation today with our eye doctors in Five Forks Vision. Call our clinic in Simpsonville, South Carolina, to make an appointment.